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Review and Interview from Blast Magazine

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Review and Interview from Blast Magazine

Post by hermitstyle on Sat 04 Apr 2009, 7:20 pm

i swear i'm done after this....maybe

review of re-arrange beds
Don’t be misled by the apparent bare bones two-person lineup of Australian duo An Horse. “Rearrange Beds,” the debut album from singer/guitarist Kate Cooper and drummer Damon Cox, has a sound that’s fuller than many offerings from five- and six-piece bands today.

The 10-song, 35-minute record moves along at a clip, with songs ranging from the punky, three-chord “Postcards” to the haunting, acoustic echo of “Listen.” Somewhere in between falls “Little Lungs,” a two-note treasure that builds from a sleepy near-whisper to a crashing slew of cymbals, distorted guitars and strained vocals over the course of nearly six minutes.

Cooper, who says she comes from a literary family and briefly pursued journalism at university before quitting to work in a record store, uses clever turns of phrase to expose her inner music junkie (”Like that good Hole album, I can Live Through This”) or breathe new life into tired clichés (”I’ve had a little too much to think”).

Though Cooper provides the basic backbone for most of the songs, she relies on Cox to doctor them up.

“Damon has a much better ear than me,” she said matter-of-factly in a recent interview. “I’m actually kind of tone deaf, so I bring stuff to him and he makes it sound better.”

Perhaps the best part of An Horse being a two-piece is that the minimal instrumentation allows listeners to pay more attention to each member’s individual contribution and realize how much they complement each other.

The urgent, galloping drumbeat courtesy of Damon that propels “Scared as Fuck” (nee “Warm Hands,” on the EP) allows the duo to live up to its name, while his handiwork during the second chorus of “Company” heightens the tense urgency of Cooper’s pleas to an erstwhile lover: “I’m trying to get you in / I’m trying to get you over, and / I’m trying to be brave.”

Cooper, meanwhile, has an appealing way of stretching out her words, which, combined with her nasally delivery, betrays a sense of vulnerability and heartbreak. It’s as if she’s wailing lines like “I can see so well / And you’re nowhere to be seen.”

Most of the songs find Cooper pining over (presumably) a failed relationship. She said she wrote the songs during “a really bad year.”

“It’s pretty much a 12-month period that was just really terrible,” she said, without elaborating. “I spent way too much time laying in my bedroom feeling sorry for myself writing records and writing songs.”

As a whole, “Rearrange Beds” can be interpreted as an ode to lost love - or possibly to one that hasn’t been discovered. It kicks off with Cooper singing, “This is a song for the one that I love / I haven’t met them yet, but I’m quietly confident.”

If her band’s musical abilities are any indication, that confidence isn’t misplaced.

and the interview:
Before a recent An Horse show in their hometown of Brisbane, Kate Cooper, one-half of the Australian duo, was asked if she had ever been to the particular venue before.

“I had,” she said in an interview with Blast a few days later. “I used to clean the toilets there.”

An Horse’s back story is a classic indie rock fairy tale. Call it “High Fidelity” meets “Slumdog Millionaire.” The band was conceived in a now-defunct record store in downtown Brisbane, and cultivated through a series of happy accidents that allowed Cooper and her band mate, Damon Cox, to go from working minimum-wage jobs and harboring rock star fantasies to landing a record deal and touring the United States.

Their debut full-length album, “Rearrange Beds,” will be released in the States on March 17 and is already available on iTunes.

The pair met in 2005, when Cooper was hired at Skinny’s, a windowless independent record store in downtown Brisbane where Cox worked. (“We didn’t deserve to be called Skinny’s,” Cooper quips. “We seriously went to work every morning and ate doughnuts.”)

When business was slow, they spent time bonding over a shared love of music, blaring mutual favorites like Nirvana and Metallica over the store’s speakers. Both admit they were probably less than stellar employees.

“We’d get a coffee in the morning and talk about a music all day,” said Cooper, 29. “That was basically what we did.”

With both playing in their own bands — Cooper a singer/guitarist with Iron On and Cox a drummer with Intercooler and Mary Trembles — they became fast friends and regulars at each other’s shows.

They recall days spent driving around Brisbane, pretending they were famous musicians on their way to play a show for legions of adoring fans.

“I would ask Kate what city we were in,” Cox said, with an audible trace of embarrassment. “It was kind of weird.”

In late 2007, Cox asked Cooper if she would be willing to perform solo as the opening act for one of his bands’ shows.

“She said, ‘Well, why don’t you get up and play drums on a couple songs?’” he recalled. “And we, being the perfectionists that we are, had to have a few rehearsals before we could get up and play together. And we did, and it just really clicked.”

“We always had this idea in the back of our mind that maybe one day we’d like to try and write music together,” said Cox, 32. “Once it happened, it just felt really good, and it kind of went from there.”

Using Skinny’s as a rehearsal space, the duo started practicing and writing songs together regularly.

“Even though we were busy working in the record store and doing other things we still always made time for An Horse practice, even though we didn’t even have gigs,” said Cooper, who borrowed the band name from a grammatically-deficient sweatshirt she was once given.

By December, they were on a roll. On a whim, they decided to record a handful of songs with a friend in Brisbane and completed a five-song EP, with no plans to ever officially release it. But Cooper slipped a copy of the unfinished demos to Tegan and Sara Quin of indie duo Tegan & Sara, who coincidentally were playing a show in Brisbane the night they finished recording. Cooper had kept in touch with the Canadian twins after meeting them months prior when they gave an in-store performance at Skinny’s.

After hearing the EP, the Quins asked Cooper and Cox to be the opening act on their upcoming tour of the United States. To say the offer took them by surprise would be an understatement. An Horse had only played one show — an in-store performance at Skinny’s a week after they finished the EP to mark the store’s closing, with Cooper’s and Cox’s other bands rounding out the lineup. But they accepted anyway.

“We were at a point where … we still only had like seven songs or something, so we had to write some more so we’d have a full set to play,” Cox recalled.

During the “Out of Hibernation” tour in the spring of 2008, Cox and Cooper found themselves playing mid-size venues across the United States with Tegan & Sara. It paved the way for them to spend much of the second half of the year touring on their own in the U.S. and Australia, including an appearance at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York during which, Cooper said, she was “literally dying” with a bad case of the flu.

Tegan and Sara Quin continue to be An Horse’s biggest cheerleaders. Sara in particular offered feedback during the recording of “Rearrange Beds” last summer and was instrumental in the band signing with Mom & Pop, a fledgling indie label based in New York. She also devoted several weeks to doing A&R work for An Horse at the end of last year.

Despite the help they’ve gotten on the business end of things, though, Cooper and Cox say they’re not looking to expand their core lineup any time soon.

“I don’t think Damon and I ever really made a conscious decision we would start a two-piece,” Cooper said. “It was like, oh, let’s play music together, and we did. And it just fit really well and worked. … We thought it sounded great just the two of us and we didn’t need anyone else.”

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Join date : 2009-04-01
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